Todays main objective was to ski the Spencer Couloir which is on the North face of the Aiguille de Blaitiere. I can see this ski line from my balcony and have had my eyes set on it since I changed to Skiing in January. It has only just come into condition as there are a couple of rock bands that have now have good snow cover.
Meting up with Alistair Hurst at the Midi at 8am there were some clouds over the face but the forecast was for clear skies so we headed up in the cool shade which was nice for the hour long skin to the start of the bootpack.
The snow was refrozen slush which was not to bad to climb and there was already a reasonable track in which made the going fast.
When we got to the bottom of the slope we saw some tracks going up the Contamine couloir so decided that would be our best line of accent, so Alistair started the bootpack with his long old legs, which made it a breeze for me!
This was the start of what turned out to be a very long 800m bootpack that took nearly 4 hours, with me breaking trail for about 50m. Ally needs the training!
More boot packing, this time with me doing some of the hard work.
Getting closer to the top with an amazing view back down to the Valley floor, I can almost see my house from here!
As we got to just below the Spencer Couloir start we came across some windblown snow that had covered up some very big holes.
After Ally nearly lost a leg into one we decided to rope up and have another go at crossing the Bergschrund, this still led to Ally nearly going into a big hole. With time creeping up on us we decided to bail on the Spencer at 2:45pm and just enjoy the powder on the decent without any crevasse rescue.
There was a good covering of firm powder on the steeper slopes with glacial ice being uncovered when you put in the harder turns.
Nice to get some powder after 5 hours of climbing!
Ally putting in some nice quick jump turns on one of the steeper sections.
The good snow continued all the way back down the the bottom of the face, until you hit the slush on the moraine.
A short 15m rappel and we were off the face and started the long slushy traverse back to Plan D’Aiguille.
The traverse had a few surprises in store for us including a number of big holes below heating rocks and some very slushy snow.
This hole Ally fell in started a slide that went on for a good 100m and was about 1m deep, a close call at the end of a long day.
The hole above is at the top of this big slide.
Getting back to the mid station at 4:30pm we had 30mins before we would have had to walk down, so we were glad that we didnt push on trying to cross the Schrund.
A great decent that is well earned after the 1000m of climbing. Next time we just have to do the Spencer…